Hogs are tougher than they may look, and knowing where to shoot a hog may be the difference between a successful hunt and a failed hunt. Shooting a hog is different than shooting a deer. The best places to shoot a hog are in the vitals, neck, or head.
Shot Placement and Why?
Shot placement is crucial when it comes to hunting hogs. Hogs have built a strong reputation of being incredibly tough animals and punishing those hunters that do not shoot them in the correct spot.
Shot placement is important for three main reasons:
- To kill the hog as quickly and efficiently as possible
- Minimize meat damage
- Save ammunition
There are numerous areas on a hog that make for suitable kill shot placements, however, each one has its pros and cons and should be aimed for under different scenarios. We will break each recommended shot placement, its pros, cons, and when to make use of it.
Vitals: Heart & Lungs
When mentioning the vitals on a hog, we are specifically talking about the heart and lungs. The vitals on a hog does not have the same placement in the body cavity as a North American deer. The vitals of a Whitetail buck, for example, sit further back within the chest cavity and three to four inches higher.
With the hog standing broadside, the shot placement to hit both the vitals would be directly up the front leg to the point at which it becomes the shoulder. The point at which the leg becomes the shoulder and where the line of the belly disappears behind the front leg, the ideal shot placement is four to six inches up from that point. A shot here will hit both the heart and lung.
- Shooting a hog will mean an almost instant kill. No hog will survive a heart and lung shot, they may not drop dead right on the spot and can very easily run off but it will eventually die
- The lungs on a hog are fairly large compared to most deer in the States. This means a larger target for you to try and hit. Although the heart is not as big, a double lung shot is just as effective
- The shot placement is relatively easy to find and easy to explain to novice hog hunters
- Aiming for this shot placement means taking out one of the front shoulders, a heavier caliber will break both shoulders, leaving the hog almost capable of running off allowing for a follow-up shot
- Shooting a hog here will mean punching through the shoulder which will damage quite a lot of meat including the heart and lungs, for those hunters that enjoy eating them
- Trying to hit this shot placement and missing it too far back means you will hit the non-vitals (guts and intestines)
The neck on a hog is square set, short, and muscular. It does not have a long protruding neck like Whitetail or Elk. The neck on a hog is the driving force behind the head enabling it to root and dig with its snout, making it very muscular.
Taking a line from the point between the hog’s eye and ear, the point of impact is eight to ten inches from that point towards the neck. This should be in line with the hog’s spine.
- Less meat damage than shooting the hog in the shoulder
- A pulled shot left or right will mean hitting the hog in the head or front shoulder joint, which are both good areas for disabling the hog
- Can be taken when the hog is standing broadside, angling in or away from the hunter
- The neck holds the spine, major arteries, and nerves
- Damages a lot of the meat in the neck
- Because the neck is very muscular a lower caliber rifle such as .22 Hornet or .223 Remington may not be effective
- The hog may still run off if the spine or arteries are not hit, leading to a non-lethal wounding
There are essentially two spots to aim for on the hog’s head. If the hog is standing broadside place the shot between the ear and the eye.
If the hog is standing looking at you or feeding directly towards you then the ideal point of impact will be between the eyes and three inches up. This sends the bullet directly into the brain killing the hog instantly.
- Instant kill shot on the hog
- Minimal meat damage with 100% recovery of the carcass
- The size of the hog’s brain is small in comparison to the heart and lungs, making it a smaller target
- Hogs move around a lot, especially while feeding. Not timing the shot correctly may result in missing the target
- Except for the brain, there are no other vitals in that area. Shooting below the target may result in hitting the hog in the jaw which will not kill it and makes it incredibly difficult to track
- This is not a recommended shot placement for novice hunters
- The skull of a hog is thick and angled. Depending on the angle of the shot it can deflect or reduce the impact of the bullet, especially with lower calibers
Where to Shoot a Moving Hog?
Very often hogs need to be shot while on the run. They are by nature very flighty animals, especially in areas such as Texas where they are heavily hunted. When spooked a hog will head for thick cover, usually woodlands or dense stands of brush along a river.
A running shot on a hog should only be taken by an experienced hunter with the correct equipment and rifle caliber.
It is important to consider various factors when shooting a hog on the run, such as:
- How far away is the hog?
- Is the hog feeding in a specific direction, walking or running for cover?
- Is your rifle steady on a rest or will you be shooting freehand?
- The caliber of your rifle
- Do you have a clear sight of the hog or will be moving between obstacles?
The intended shot placement on a moving hog, in this case, one that is running, is the neck area. The main reason for this is because the neck is central between two kill areas, the head, and vitals.
Aiming for the neck and pulling the shot either left or right will mean a higher percentage of hitting an area that will kill the hog. If you aim to hit the hog in the head and pull the shot, you may hit it in the neck or miss completely, worse yet hitting it in the nose or jaw.
Aiming for the shoulder, you run the risk of hitting the hog in the abdomen, which will result in a non-lethal wounding.
Many experienced hog hunters will advise, and with good reason, that the first shot should be to hit the ideal placement but after that, once the hog starts running then rather aim for center mass and not worry too much about trying to hit specific areas.
Where to Shoot a Hog With a Bow?
Shot placement on a hog using a bow is different from that of a rifle. A hog that is either facing you or walking directly away from you, should never be shot at with a bow.
The ideal shot and placement and scenario for shooting a hog with a bow would be just behind the shoulder with the hog quartering or angling away from the hunter. Although one could shoot a hog in the shoulder with a bow, they run the risk of hitting the solid bone or not getting enough penetration with the arrow.
With the hog quartering away, a shot just behind the fold of the shoulder will remove the risk of hitting that bone.
Where to Shoot a Hog With a .223?
Remember that shot placement is always the priority. The .223 is not necessarily a light caliber but it certainly is when compared to the .30 calibers. Anywhere from behind the shoulder to the brain is an ideal placement for the .233 caliber.
Ranges from 60 yards up to 180 yards with a 55-grain bullet are within the capability for a .223 and the hog can be shot with confidence in the shoulder, neck, and head.
At distances greater than 180 yards, a more secure shot placement would be into the vitals of the hog. The bullet may not pass through both shoulders of the hog, but a .223 caliber bullet performs well enough to penetrate the heart and lungs of the hog.